Every postseason a few baseball players emerge both on the field and in the clubhouse.
The national media begins paying attention to teams it hadn't covered before and there are always a couple guys that stand out. I remember Curtis Granderson's coming-out party in 2006. Not only did he have a great ALCS for the Detroit Tigers that year, but he was unbelievably polished during post-game and pre-game interviews.
I wasn't the only one that noticed. The next year, when the Tigers weren't in the postseason, Granderson was used as a network in-studio analyst.
This postseason, according to what some of my writer friends have said (and tweeted), Texas Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson has become the belle of the postseason ball. Wilson has pitched well in three of his four postseason starts. And he backs it up afterward as a great interview.
I spent about 15 minutes in July with Wilson talking about his experiences as a young pitcher in 2005 and 2006 under Buck Showalter. The Orioles were about to hire Showalter at the time and I wanted some input from his former players.
Wilson was tremendous. Very introspective and polished. He came up as a starter/middle reliever/lefty specialist and Showalter immediately had confidence in him, inserting him into close games and, eventually, to finish games. Wilson ultimately became a closer for parts of three seasons, but switched back to starting this year and was 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA.
I thought about that interview with Wilson recently and found the transcription. I used three quotes from Wilson in the main story on Showalter when he was hired, but there was a lot left over that hit the editing room floor.
So here are some quotes from C.J. Wilson on Showalter. Yes, they are three months old. But I thought they were worth passing on since Wilson has been in the World Series spotlight.
"I always felt good (with Showalter), because when you went in there, he had trust in you and you had a purpose. Like you were going to get that lefty out or you were going to get that particular set of batters out."
"He is really good with the bullpen. He handles the bullpen really well. You always knew you were going to get action because he liked to keep guys fresh. Have them work and then give them a day off. It was good because it always felt like he was always ahead of the game."
"Buck's memory is unbelievable. So he'd start a conversation with you and something would come up and he couldn't finish it and then he would finish it later. That happened on numerous occasions."
"I felt like I could talk to him. He was the first manager I have ever had really trust me as a closer. And he instilled in me that I could do that, be a closer. When a rookie comes up as a middle reliever, as a lefty specialist, that's a really big compliment. He has had a lot of really good players, so that really meant a lot to me."
"I don't think there would be too many guys in this game that would be better for young players. He makes you feel like part of a system. Kind of like Bill Belichick or something, where there is a system that you know we are going to use and you are going to be a part of that. And you are going to do your job and the other guys are going to do their jobs and that's how the team works."
"I think with Buck I had success with him, because of him, because he gave me an opportunity. The reason why I am here (in the majors) right now is because he had trust in me. So he gave me the opportunity to play. He put his trust in me and he gave me a chance to succeed and I did. So I owe him a lot."
"He expects a lot out of people because he puts a lot in, which is fair. It's the friggin' major leagues. No one gets their hand held and told they're OK. You've got to go out there and do your job."
"He brought the work ethic every day and hopefully he gets the most out of you. Really, that's all you can ask for. A manager needs to get the most talent out of what he is given.
"You can't take someone and turn them into Alex Rodriguez. If you don't have that guy, you can't make him Alex Rodriguez. Now, if you have a guy that's a potential Alex Rodriguez, then you work with him. And that's the way I think about Buck. He is kind of a capitalist manager in the sense that he trusts you to do your job, because if you do your job, then it will benefit everybody."